More than any other trait, Professor Diego Rosso looks for curiosity in the students he mentors. By encouraging his students to follow their own paths in solving problems he allows them to become completely engaged in the research process; he also frequently learns from watching them char their own paths. He was inspired by his own experience as an undergraduate researcher and feels it is important to pass on that inspiration to the next generation of students. Professor Rosso was awarded the 2014 Chancellorís Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for the Henry Samueli School of Engineering in recognition of his dedication to fostering undergraduate research at UC Irvine.

1. How did you develop an interest in mentoring undergraduate research or creative projects, and what type of projects have you directed?

When I was a student I had the good fortune of conducting research in two labs and this experience inspired me to become a researcher and a professor. It is my duty now to inspire others about the magic of scientific discovery.

2. What do you look for and what are your expectations of undergraduates you select to conduct research under your guidance?

Intellectual curiosity and independence. Curiosity and independence are the talents necessary for a scientist to design experiments and conduct them until answers are reached.

3. Describe your level of engagement and style in mentoring undergraduates.

I am a hands-off adviser; I don't like to prescribe the modality of problem solving, with the exception of measurement protocols. Students coming up with their own solutions tend to be more engaged, enthusiastic of their findings, and most importantly they teach me something while they are learning.

4. In your experience, how have your students improved or benefited as a result of their undergraduate research experience?

Some of my undergraduate students were inspired by their own learning and went on to graduate school. My best career achievement was to inspire one of the undergraduates in my laboratory not to drop out of school and to apply to graduate studies; she was later accepted to the #1 program in the country with a full scholarship for graduate studies.

5. What have you learned or benefited from guiding undergraduate research or creative projects?

Curiosity above all. One of my past undergraduate students asked me a question I always neglected as everyone else was doing. His question not only had merit but opened a line of research that made me known throughout my field. He later went on to graduate studies at Berkeley.

6. What recommendations and advice would you give students embarking on undergraduate research or creative projects?

Don't be afraid to ask questions, it's your job and you might discover something very important!

Research Interests: water-energy nexus; processes for wastewater treatment, water reclamation, water reuse, potable water treatment; carbon footprint of treatment processes

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '14 Emiliana Borrelli
Nov. '14 Joel Veenstra
Oct. '14 Jonathan Alexander
Sep. '14 Leslie M. Thompson
Aug. '14 Jonathan R.T. Lakey
Jul. '14 Diego Rosso
Jun. '14 James Kyung-Jin Lee
May. '14 Lisa Pearl
Apr. '14 Jayne Elizabeth Lewis
Mar. '14 Donald Jay Patterson
Feb. '14 Dritan Agalliu
Jan. '14 Stephanie Reich